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Oil: Final exploration bids by Sept 15

February 20, 2006 11:10 IST

The petroleum ministry has fixed September 15 as the last date for submission of bids, after recently finalising the pre-bid qualification specifications for the National Exploration Licensing Policy's (NELP) sixth round.

Among the 55 blocks on offer, 10 blocks are located in the Krishna-Godavari basin, seven each in Mahanadi-NEC basin and the Assam-Arakan basin.

The new round will be officially launched next Friday and will see global road shows at locations like Houston, London, Calgary and Perth.

The new terms include, the possibility of seismic option alone in the first phase of the exploration period, no minimum expenditure commitment, no signature, discovery or production bonus and an income tax holiday for seven years from start of commercial production.

The government will decide on the bids based on the past performance of bidding parties, including track record of companies and court cases against them.

The exploration programme will be for maximum of seven years, divided into two phases. However, the first phase cannot exceed four years, but for deepwater blocks it can be of five years.

Companies will have the option of terminating the contract at the end of the first phase. In addition, companies will have to give a minimum commitment of one exploratory well in the first phase.

The production and development period will be of 20 years, that can be extended by another 10 years with government approval.

The contractor will be required to sell the crude in the domestic market until India becomes self-sufficient. It will also give preference to use of Indian goods and services subject to competitive quality and prices. Preference will also be given to companies agreeing to transfer technology to India.

The sixth round will see some changes. The blocks will now be divided into highly prospective and greenfield blocks.

Accordingly, the former will get more weightage for the fiscal package offered. The fiscal package will be the profit share offered by bidders along with annual cost recovery limit.

Vishaka Zadoo in New Delhi
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